What will the future of primary care look like?

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the move toward value-based care was beginning to change the shape of primary care. Given the recent innovations in both technology and care delivery, what will the future of primary care look like?

Over twenty years ago, a Harvard business school professor coined the phrase “disruptive innovation” to describe a service that supplants the existing way of doing things as it becomes more affordable, more convenient, and more accessible. The disruptive innovation can eventually redefine an entire industry. The future of primary care is now positioned to shift dramatically from the delivery mode of just two years ago, given the current disruptive innovations.

Primary care providers were facing a challenging choice in the spring of 2020. They had to either shift their delivery model or close their doors, at least temporarily. The pandemic, with its lockdown restrictions, forced many people to stay home even when they had important medical appointments scheduled. Routine care was delayed, as were non-emergency procedures and tests.

The primary care provider who took advantage of the potential for technology to reach out to patients was better equipped to survive, financially, and better able to continue to provide the quality care their patients needed and expected. In the process, healthcare providers, including physicians, nurses, and pharmacists, learned or enhanced a set of skills that will prove invaluable to the future of primary care:

  • Front-line innovation
  • Public communication
  • Data driven decision making.

The disruptive innovation in healthcare, moving forward, will increase the quality of care and serve to help reduce the costs of delivering that care.

Elation is the engine for primary care innovation, leading the future of sustainable healthcare in the US.

Technology enables the primary care provider to:

  • Reach patients where they are
  • Develop a more meaningful relationship with those patients
  • Provide value-based care in a safe and efficient manner.

Innovative changes to healthcare delivery can enable physicians to reach out to new and existing patients in ways that make that can help them re-connect. Recent surveys have found that the percentage of adults in the US with a primary care physician declined from 2002 to 2015. Overall, 75% of adults in the US now have a relationship with a primary care provider. The exception being that the number has remained stable throughout the past several years for individuals with chronic health conditions.

Digital engagement has the potential for bringing those patients back, as innovations such as telehealth enable the physician to reach patients in their homes or at work or anywhere in between. Remote care, with its convenience and safety, is one of the major drivers of the future of primary care. Technology breakthroughs and improvements in such tools as electronic health records (EHRs) and wearable technology further enhance the provider’s ability to deliver quality care.

The future of primary care brings solutions to healthcare delivery for provider and patient. Virtual options offer the physician the ability to:

  • Treat the patient safely and efficiently, including prescribing medications when appropriate
  • Assess the patient’s mental and physical health as well as their social determinants of health
  • Guide patients in the best direction for all parties in terms of care that is both high quality and cost-effective.